Marco Fama

The financialization of poverty. Microfinance and the rise of the neoliberal development paradigm

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Micro-credit has long been described as a «silver bullet» against poverty, although in recent years this enthusiastic narrative is increasingly being questioned. Much of the debate surrounding microfinance keep being focused mainly on issues related to models, methodology and impact evaluation. The article aims to analyze microfinance from a wider political economy perspective, linking its origins to the transformations that the development narrative and tools have experienced from the Seventies onwards. As a consequence of the crisis of Fordism, the author argues, the industrial-expansion projects which characterized the post-colonial period have gradually been replaced with a set of techniques, discourses and knowledge intended to manufacture new «entrepreneurial subjects» to whom directly delegate the fulfilment of the development goals. Within this «governmental» strategy, emblematic of the neoliberal accumulation paradigm, programs to improve access to credit play a crucial role, expanding the financial sector (i.e. financializing new social, economic and spatial spheres), providing a market-based alternative to classical welfare interventions and engendering specific «effects of power» such as the depoliticization of poverty.


  • Poverty
  • Microfinance
  • Financialization
  • Governmentality
  • Neoliberalism


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